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Pathology of Oral Herpes

Audience: Educated lay audience

Client: Prof. Shelley Wall, Dr. John Wong (content advisor)

An editorial illustration depicting the pathological changes of oral herpes, or herpes labialis. The goal for this project was to create a conceptual medical illustration demonstrating pathological change in tissue over time, and explain a particular disease process to an educated lay audience. Oral herpes is a common infection worldwide, and yet most people are unaware of its pathophysiology. The challenge was to communicate how primary and recurrent infection occur, while visually explaining the concurrent changes to tissue at a microscopic level. It was designed with the intention for print as a double-page spread in a popular science magazine.


Print (editorial, magazine)

Tools used:

Adobe Photoshop CC

Adobe Illustrator CC

Completed on:

December 2017

pathology of oral herpes

Tissue Studies


Before a comprehensive sketch could be developed, preparatory studies were made. These include a tonal study of the lip as a landscape, as well as tissue cubes from tonal studies to final colour renders.

tissue landscape of the lip
tissue cube study

Composition and layout


After completing research and finalizing content, several compositional sketches were made resulting in the two shown here. With guidance from Prof. Wall, we decided to go with the first sketch as it also communicates the pathophysiology of the viral infection.



Once the sketches were reviewed by the content expert, lined tissue cubes were brought into Adobe Illustrator to be vectorized.

The tissue cubes, including the main and spot illustrations, were brought into Adobe Photoshop for the final colour render. Final renders were brought into Adobe Illustrator for compositing.

tissue cubes in pencil
tissue cubes as vectors
tissue cubes rendered
trigeminal ganglion
oral herpes
oral herpes treatment

References: Arduino, P. G., & Porter, S. R. (2008). Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 infection : overview on relevant clinico-pathological features, 107–121.; Competition, L., Affects, D., & In, I. (2008). Current management and recommendations for access to antiviral therapy of herpes labialis, 86(12), 3279–3288.; Curran, R., & Crocker, J. 2000. Curran’s Atlas of Histopathology. New York, NY: Harvey Miller Publishers.Fatahzadeh, M., & Schwartz, R. A. (2007). Human herpes simplex labialis, 625–630.; Gartner, L. P., & Hiatt, J. L. 2016. Color Atlas of Histology. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.; Harmenberg, J., Öberg, B., & Spruance, S. (2010). Prevention of Ulcerative Lesions by Episodic Treatment of Recurrent Herpes Labialis : A Literature Review, 122–130.; Klatt, E. 2010. Robbins and Cotran Atlas of Pathology. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier.; Krstic, R. V. 1994. Human Microscopic Anatomy. Lausanne, Switzerland: Springer-Verlag.; Kumar, V., Abbas, A. K., & Aster, J. C. 2018. Robbins Basic Pathology. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.; Naib, Z. M. N. (1947). Cytologic Diagnosis of Herpes Simplex Virus Infection, 2(2), 83-89.; Opstelten, W., Neven, A. K., & Eekhof, J. (2008). Clinical Review: Treatment and prevention of herpes labialis. Canadian Family Physician, 54, 1683–1687.; Patel, A. R., Romanelli, P., Roberts, B., & Kirsner, R. S. (2009). Herpes simplex virus : a histopathologic study of the depth of herpetic wounds. International Journal of Dermatology, 48, 36–40.; Tsalenchuck, Y., Steiner, I., & Panet, A. (2016). Innate defense mechanisms against HSV-1 infection in the target tissues, skin and brain. Journal of NeuroVirology, 22(5), 641–649.; Whitley, R. J., & Roizman, B. (2001). Herpes simplex virus infections, 357, 1513–1518.

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